How to Keep Sewer Roaches out of Your Drains

How can you keep sewer roaches out of drains in your home? For starters, fix leaky faucets and seal gaps around pipes. We’ll cover that and more in this guide.

Let’s start with some ways to prevent sewer roaches from getting into your drains in the first place.

How to Prevent Sewer Roaches from Becoming a Problem

Preventing sewer roaches is often more effective than dealing with an infestation. Here’s how to keep your home sewer roach-free.

  • Inspect drain pipes and their surroundings for any cracks, crevices, and holes in and around them. Use caulk to seal these entry points.
  • Fix leaky faucets, as roaches are attracted to moisture.
  • Fill gaps around pipes under your kitchen and bathroom sinks using an insulating foam sealant. Check out this video by Brittany Bailey for an idea of how to do it:

  • Remove garbage cans from under the sink, or take the trash out daily.
  • Cover drains with a drain cover, especially at night.
  • Clean sinks regularly using a sink cleaner or steam cleaner, to help reduce food particles.
  • Keep the kitchen sink tidy by not leaving food or dirty dishes overnight.
  • Use guest bathrooms periodically to keep water flowing and deter roach entry.

How to Kill Sewer Roaches

Dead roaches around a roach bait station
Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

If preventive measures fall short and you begin to notice huge sewer roaches skittering around your kitchen or bathroom, here are some strategies to help you get rid of sewer roaches:

  • Use roach bait: Roach bait combines an insecticide with a food attractant. Roaches consume the bait and slowly die. The bait can also affect other roaches that come into contact with the infected one. Place the baits under the sink.
  • Place glue traps: Position glue roach traps near drains or under sinks to catch roaches and help identify their entry points. 
  • Use a borax and sugar mixture: Dissolve 1 cup of boric acid and 1 cup of sugar in one gallon of water, then pour the solution into multiple shallow trays around the kitchen or bathroom. The sugar lures roaches in, while the borax kills them.
  • Pour boiling water down the drain: As a quick and direct method, pouring boiling water down the drain can kill roaches instantly.
  • Consult a pest control professional: For severe infestations, it may be necessary to call a pest control professional to apply insect growth regulators and insecticides effectively and safely.

Pro Tip: Even if you’re currently battling a sewer roach infestation, keep implementing prevention strategies. Covering the drains and maintaining a clean kitchen, for instance, are key measures that can deter more roaches from invading your home.

What Are Sewer Roaches?

Sewer roaches are, in fact, a familiar foe: the American cockroach.

The nickname “sewer roach” stems from their preference for making their homes in sewer systems, where it’s warm, moist, and they have plenty of food. These conditions provide an ideal breeding ground for roaches. From there, they often venture into our homes through the drains.

What Do Sewer Roaches Look Like

American Cockroach with white background
Photo Credit: Gary Alpert / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana), often referred to as sewer roaches, have some distinct characteristics that set them apart from other types of cockroaches and insects.

  • Size: Measure 1.5 to 2 inches long
  • Antennae: Equipped with long antennae, as big as their bodies
  • Color: Shiny, reddish-brown
  • Markings: Feature a yellow or pale brown band right behind the head
  • Legs: Possess six legs, which look hairy to the naked eye
  • Eggs: Encased in a purse-shaped egg case, called an ootheca.

How Long Do Sewer Roaches Live?

Sewer roaches live 400 days on average, but it takes around 600 days for an egg to develop through the various nymph stages into an adult.

During their lifespan, sewer roaches are actively reproducing, contributing to their infestation within your home or sewer system.

Where Do Sewer Roaches Come From?

roach going into the drain in the bathroom
Photo Credit: Artsanova / Canva Pro / License

While American cockroaches (sewer roaches) naturally prefer the outdoors, they’re driven into homes by the search for shelter from harsh weather conditions or in pursuit of food. Heavy rain or sewer backup can force them to climb through sewer and drain pipes, leading them directly into our homes.

What attracts sewer roaches? Once inside, these roaches are attracted to the same conditions they enjoy outside: damp, dark, and moist areas, with the added bonus of readily available food sources. They exploit cracks and holes in kitchen or bathroom drains as entry points, turning our homes into their refuge and pantry.

Are Sewer Roaches Dangerous?

roach inside a toilet
Photo Credit: pedphoto36pm / Canva Pro / License

Yes, sewer roaches can be dangerous. Roaches, by nature, are scavengers. They feast on anything available in their environment, which often includes the garage and waste found in sewers and dumpsters. This exposes them to a myriad of pathogens and disease agents, which they can carry on their bodies.

When these roaches find their way into your home through the drains and scurry across your kitchen counters and dining areas, they can transfer germs, bacteria, and viruses to the surfaces where you prepare and eat your food. This isn’t just about the disgust of having roaches around; it’s a health concern.

Here are some of the diseases sewer roaches can spread:

  • Dysentery
  • Diarrhea
  • Salmonella
  • Staphylococcus infections
  • Streptococcus infections

FAQ About Sewer Roaches

How Do Sewer Roaches Get in the House?

Sewer roaches typically enter homes through drain pipes, exploiting any cracks, crevices, or holes around and in these pipes. They also find their way in through gaps around pipes that lead indoors, seeking the warmth and potential food sources our homes offer. As such, sealing these entry points is crucial.

Do Sewer Roaches Fly?

Yes, sewer roaches do have wings and are capable of flying, though it is more common to see them running. However, their flights are usually not long or sustained.

Do Sewer Roaches Bite?

There have been some cases of cockroaches biting humans in severe infestations, but this is extremely rare. They are capable of biting, but they are much more likely to harm humans indirectly by spreading germs and bacteria.

Can Sewer Roaches Swim?

Sewer roaches can’t swim in the traditional sense, but they can float on water. They generally avoid bodies of water and won’t survive long if submerged. This is one reason why drains that are rarely used should be used occasionally to prevent these pests from seeing them as a viable path into your home. 

When to Call a Pro

Armed with the knowledge from this article, you’re now equipped to tackle sewer roaches head-on. However, if the situation escalates beyond your control, don’t hesitate. Call a professional cockroach exterminator today and reclaim the peace and comfort of your home.

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Main Image Credit: Kateryna Kukota / Canva Pro / License

Maria Isabela Reis

Maria Isabela Reis is a writer, Ph.D. candidate, and plant enthusiast from an area where mosquitoes are as relentless in their pursuit of blood as she is in her quest for knowledge. When she’s not swatting away these buzzing annoyances, she’s playing with her dogs and savoring a cup of tea.